When game designers Lori and Corey Cole first devised the Quest for Glory concept, they envisioned it as a sequence of four games. While the instalments weren't completely thought out beforehand, the general premise of each game was there from the very beginning. However, on completion of the second game, Trial by Fire, the Coles felt that the main character wasn't ready yet for the dark and mature setting they'd planned next.
As a solution, a more light-hearted sequel was conceived to serve in between, preparing the Hero more adequately for his next adventure. So the plan for Shadows of Darkness was pushed back to become the fourth game in the series, and the newly invented Wages of War became the third episode instead. Perhaps as a result of this, the game suffers from a few design flaws that make it less enjoyable than other Quest for Glory titles.
As the series continues to migrate across continents, Wages of War is set in a fictional African country known as Tarna. Spread out over the savannah and jungle live a variety of tribes and ethnic groups. Two tribes, a traditional group of warriors and herdsmen called the Simbani and an elusive shapeshifting people known as the Leopardmen, are at the brink of war. At the core of the conflict are two thefts, as both tribes have in their possession a stolen artefact highly valued by the rival tribe. This seems a rather futile reason to wage a large-scale war over, but this way the Hero gets to bring peace by returning the stolen items, not through actual diplomacy.
Throughout the game, there is speculation that Demons may be the cause of the war. Since the energy released by death and bloodshed allows them to enter into the world, the Demons surely have a good motive to cause massive killings. Discovering the Demons' secret scheming might have been a surprising plot twist if it hadn't been so obviously and frequently mentioned as early as the introduction. Surely it would have been more suspenseful had this plot been hinted at and revealed bit by bit during the course of the game.
Still, as long as they can only suspect Demon activity, all the Hero and his friends can do is focus on preventing the war. The key to peace lies with dissolving the hostilities between the Simbani and Leopardmen tribes, which becomes the main focus of most of the game. This requires you to familiarize yourself with the customs and motives of the different cultures, to make friends among them and promote peace. To this end, the Hero finds himself traversing the large land of Tarna on various errands. For the first time in the Quest for Glory series, the country is presented from a top-down map view, on which the Hero travels between significant locations. Also unlike previous QFG games, travelling from one end of the game world to the other takes quite some time, as Tarna is vast and perhaps too sparsely filled with locations to visit.
Play begins in the city of Tarna (it has become Quest for Glory custom by now to name the country and its capital city identically), which is primarily inhabited by a half-man, half-lion people called the Liontaurs. The city is densely populated and filled with stone buildings and people to visit and talk to. A day's march away lays the Simbani village. The Simbani are a primitive, nomadic people who live in huts. They take pride in being warriors and despise and distrust the use of magic. Their village is a small one, and only a few of its inhabitants can be talked to. To the east of these locations, the savannah turns into dense jungle where the Leopardmen live. The Leopardmen are practically the opposites of the Simbani, as they are all spell casters and have no respect for those with no magical ability. The Leopardmen are secretive and suspicious of outsiders, so their village remains hidden until later in the game.
As you move through the main areas, you'll encounter dialogue in abundance, though most isn't crucial to completing the game. The many optional conversations help flesh out the game world and its cultures, but there is very little character development. As a result of this, WoW's characters are hardly memorable.
Typical of Quest for Glory games are the puzzles that can be solved differently by each of the three different classes: Fighter, Thief and Magic User. Wages of War takes the concept to the next level by offering each character an alternate path to the same goal, which is returning the stolen artefacts so that a peace conference between the tribes may be arranged. A fighter will seek the trust of the like-minded Simbani in a ritual to become accepted as a fellow warrior. The Wizard is required to prove his prowess among the Leopardmen. The Thief, who is more of a loner, takes matters into his own hands and decides to steal the artefacts and return them to their rightful owners.
These different paths offer a good challenge and do much to make QFG3 unique each time you play, yet the puzzles are neither frequent nor complex enough to keep things interesting. Most quests require you to run errands across the jungle and savannah, and these become rather repetitive. Only during more important events do we get to see some actual puzzles that require creative thinking. Even so, there aren't a lot of them, and most are rather straightforward.Continued on the next page...